Crime prevention tips to follow
Barbecues, baseball, beach trips and Hollywood blockbusters are long-time summer traditions, but the dark side of sunny weather brings seasonal spikes in crime.
While it is a year-round problem, the connection between climate and crime has been studied for more than a century. In 1897, US Weather Bureau Chief Willis Moore commissioned a study saying was "convinced" there a connection between "atmospheric conditions and the physical and moral welfare of the people," according to national media reports.
Police and sheriff's deputies anticipate spikes in criminal activity during the summer, especially in property crimes and drunken driving.
"Generally speaking, during the warmer weather months, we see increases in certain types of activity, including (property crimes)" Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said.
Statistics from the FBI also indicate increases in property crimes like burglary, larceny and robbery in California during 2010, the most recent data available.
Police also noted expected increases in drunken driving over the summer.
While there is no way to guarantee safety, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
"It's not a matter of trying to scare people," said Dan Shuffield, Yuba City Police community services officer. "It's a matter of being smart."
What can you do to help protect yourself?
Burglary, Home & Business
Vacations are a summer staple for many. However, extended trips can leave your home vulnerable to burglaries.
While many precautions can be taken, one major step residents should take is to report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said.
"If you see a vehicle in your neighborhood that doesn't belong there or someone hanging around you're not familiar with, let us know, let us check it out," Durfor said.
Durfor also said trimming bushes and trees in your yard that could be used as hiding spots for potential thieves is also helpful.
Brenda Baker, Sutter County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman, said communicating with neighbors could also help reduce risk.
"Take an active role and get involved in your community," Baker said in an email. "Join a Neighborhood Watch Program to look out for each other and assist law enforcement."
1. Lock up your home, windows and garage doors even if you go out only for a short time. Many burglars enter through an unlocked door or window.
2. Use timers to switch lights and radios and televisions on and off when you're not home so it appears the house is occupied at all times.
3. If the entrances to your home are dark, consider installing lighting with an infrared detector. Most thieves don't want to be observed tying to get in a door.
4. Don't leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These act as a welcome mat for a burglar.
5. Talk to your neighbors about any suspicious people or strange cars you notice lurking about.
Source: Sutter County Sheriff's Department
Identify Theft Prevention
Over the last year, the Yuba City Police Department has seen a troubling spike in mail thefts, according to Dan Shuffield, Yuba City police community services officer.
Mail theft is just one of the many dangers related to identity theft, check fraud, credit card theft and scams.
"There's so many different types of (identity theft) and we see a mix of all it," Shuffield explained.
Shuffield said placing bill payments and letters in a locked post office blue box or taking them to the office cuts down on your risk.
"People placing checks in their outgoing mail box for the carrier to pick up — we've seen an increase in thefts that way," Shuffield said.
1. Do not give out your personal information unless you initiate the contact or know the person or company with whom you are dealing.
2. Do not write your Social Security number or telephone number on checks or credit card receipts.
3. Remove all documents with personal information from your hard drive before discarding your computer or sending it in for repair.
4. Shred discarded documents, including preapproved credit card applications, bank statements, store receipts and utility bills. "Dumpster divers" can gain access to your personal information if such items are thrown in the trash.
5. Order your credit report at least twice a year and report any mistakes to the credit reporting agency in writing.
Source: National Crime Prevention Council
Police anticipate spikes in drunken driving during the summer, Marysville Police Sgt. Chris Sachs said.
"More people get together for barbecues or picnics or trips to the lake when the weather is better," he said.
Sachs said additional patrols, checkpoints and other operations are planned as part of the Avoid the 9 DUI Task Force summer crackdown.
"Obviously we want to people to be careful," Sachs said. "If you're going to drink, drink responsibly and plan for a designated driver. If you don't have a designated driver, call one of the local taxi companies and stay put."
First-time DUI offenders with no criminal history and clean driving records face a minimum of two days in the county jail, three years of probation, at least 24 hours of community service, along with fines between $1,700 and $1,800, authorities have said.
1. Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
2. Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
3. If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
4. Use your community's sober ride program
5. Report Drunk Drivers - Call 911.
Source: Avoid the 9 Task Force
Car thefts is a year-round issue, according to the California Highway Patrol, but a major recent spike in vehicle thefts concerns everyone in law enforcement in Yuba and Sutter counties.
With longer days ahead, it's possible vehicle thefts could break record numbers over the next summer.
"Leaving your keys in a running car is inviting trouble," Sgt. Mike McCarthy noted. "People do it during the winter to warm their cars up and in the summer to cool it down, but it's never a good idea."
McCarthy also said people tend to leave their windows down during the summer so the car doesn't heat up while their away.
McCarthy said taking "fairly common sense" approaches can reduce your risk of vehicle theft.
The state CHP website advises motorist to park vehicles in secure garages, when possible, and to be aware of your surroundings prior to leaving your vehicle. The CHP also recommends stalling an audible alarm system.
1. Always lock your vehicle.
2. Always utilize anti-theft devices.
3. Always park your vehicle in a well-lighted area at night.
4. Always make sure you receive an ownership certificate when purchasing a used vehicle.
5. Never leave your keys in your vehicle.
Source: The California Highway Patrol
Scrap Metal Theft
Stolen scrap metal is a growing problem nationwide, especially in rural and agricultural communities, Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said.
"It's a real and significant issue that has certainly increased over the last several years," Durfor said.
Again, basic prevention involves mostly common sense approaches to keeping property secure.
"Installing security camera and keeping property behind locked fences can be very helpful," Durfor said. "It's preferable to have some type of alarm system and hardening building access."
A major prevention step available to property owners, farmers and ranchers in particular, is the use of Owner Applied Numbers, Durfor said.
The identification numbers are applied to property and registered with the agcrime.net. If property is stolen and found, the ID number can be traced back directly to the property owner, Durfor explained.
1. Keep metallic items out of sight, locked up, and securely stored when not in use.
2. Invest in fencing, locks, chains, alarm systems, no trespassing signs, storage units, cameras, and possibly security guards. These measures may cost a little but save a lot.
3. Clearly mark private property, boundaries, security measures, and enforcement rights.
4. Be cautious of people that you allow to access your property.
5. Report suspicious persons and/or vehicles to law enforcement.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat